Last night, I was lying down on my sofa, with one cat, Malka, behind my head, another cat, Motek, in my right arm and a third, Sammy, in my left (that is until he lept out of my arms as captured on my phone by my daughter as he was in mid-flight).
|Quite a picture, yes?|
I looked up at my father, who had come over for dinner, and said, “Holy shit! I’m the Crazy Cat Lady!” He smirked and glibly said, “You always were,” as he left for his home.
I’m really not, though. I’ve been accused of being one by an ex-boyfriend, but that’s because he didn’t like cats. And being a single woman with cats doesn’t automatically put you into that category. I don’t have ramps and all kinds of weird structures to accommodate the cats in every room. I don’t have kitty houses all over. Yes, I do have 2 kitty litters on each floor of the house, but that’s because when you have four cats, you need to have two.
Yes. Four cats. It’s not what you think.
I have a 15-year old cat named Schmooie (Schmooella Daniella). (No, I didn’t name her “Schmooie,” she came with that name.) She’s a breast cancer survivor – no joke. In 2005, she had a quadruple mastectomy. She was my ex-husband’s cat – we got her when she was 6-months old. Until recently, she would spend 75% of her time outside – it was agony to keep her indoors. Lately, she’s been relatively content being an indoor cat, thank goodness. So she was kind of an absentee cat. So, yes, while I own four cats, I never really considered her ours – she was very much her own cat.
Malka was “gifted” to us a couple of years ago. A former friend, who was a little more than psycho, decided she had to get a kitten to keep her solitary cat and her young son company. I urged her to reconsider, as it seemed to come out of left field, but she insisted. She asked me to accompany her to pick out a kitten as someone who has had cats all her life. I found a kitten in the litter with an amazing personality, with great potential to be a loving lap cat and one that got along with the other kittens. She, however, chose to ignore my recommendations altogether and went for the psycho kitty, who seemed to show great disdain towards all the other cats, and was female. Her logic? This kitten was the only one who didn’t have six toes (which I thought was kind of cool – the entire litter but this one was six-toed). I warned her one last time that I didn’t think this was the best companion kitten, but she didn’t listen.
Sure enough, 48-hours later, she was on my doorstep, handing the kitten to my daughter saying, “Here! Look! It’s a present for you!” and I was stuck with her. Malka was now my daughter’s kitten – and my daughter is the only person whom this cat adores. She despises my son – his mere entrance into a room can cause her to hiss and growl and even attack his ankles.
Motek is the newest addition to the family after Hurricane Sandy. His story, as it was told to us, was that he was abandoned by his former owners and left in the hurricane. When we learned about his plight, and saw his sweet personality, we had to adopt him. Since Malka is my daughter’s cat, Motek became my son’s, though he seems to have claimed my bedroom as his domain.
And that leaves Samson. My Samson. (Well, technically, He’s Samson the II. My grandmother had a pair of cats - Samson & Delilah - Samson being a red tabby, Delilah a grey. Samson I became my cat when she passed away. There was something, when Samson II was a kitten, that was so much like Samson I, that I knew I'd mistakenly call him Samson, so I decided, "The hell with it, I'll just name him Samson II after Samson I.") A little more than a year ago, my big, grey, teddy bear of a cat, Raouw, had to be put down. I was trolling the internet just looking for places in the area from which we could adopt a cat when we were ready. Then, I saw this photo:
|What a shayna punim?!|
I wasn’t planning on getting a new cat immediately – I wanted time to mourn Raouwsiebear. However, when I saw this face, I was in love. Super Bowl Sunday, we went to a pet shop to meet the woman coordinating the adoptions, and went into the large bathroom with her, the kids and a pet carrier. The minute she opened the carrier doors, this lovely lion of a kitten walked out, with the confidence of someone who just won the Presidential election, and he marched into my lap, purring loudly, and curled up and looked me in the eyes. Within minutes, we were buying him food, a collar and toys.
Why is this relevant?
When people say that I’m a “Crazy Cat Lady,” I know in my heart that I’m not. If anything, I’m a very sane person because of these little four-legged (five-toed) furry family members.
In case you hadn’t seen the reports, the kindness and healing that these purring bundles of joy provide to people is remarkable, so much so that after the Newtown shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, an organization brought kittens to provide therapy to the children and anyoneneeding support. Cats are the only animal on the planet that have a functionthat is strictly meant to express happiness – purring. And studies show that those with cats tend to have lower levels of stress and fewer heart attacks than those without cats. The act of simply stroking a cats fur has a healing ability.
There is no question, whatsoever, that my ability to recovery from the blow of hearing that I had cancer would not have been handled as well had it not been for the affection of my cats. When I came home from the hospital after my mastectomy, as I’ve described previously, my cat Raouw didn’t leave my side for days – all he did was curl up with me, purr, kiss me, and sleep. Even Malka slept with me. Schmooie would curl up on my pillow behind my head. Collectively, they all cared for me in their own very unique ways.
During chemotherapy, when I felt at my worst, I could tell that Malka sensed something was wrong with me, but she was confused. Raouwsie, however, wouldn’t cease contact with me, going so far as to keep me lying down when I was tempted to get up so I could rest.
Once Raouw was gone, Sammy, in his own clumsy, bad ass way, cared for me. Though he doesn’t have half the patience Raouw had to sleep in my lap, or sit still for long cuddle sessions, he’d pay attention to me, clown around, and keep me entertained. And Sammy still showered me with loud purrs and sloppy kisses when I had various reconstructive surgeries and, when I wasn’t looking, would curl up and sleep next to me so I would wake up with a face full of ginger fur and the soothing vibration of his purr.